Spotlight on HB1343 - Libraries and our ILF response
Library governance, funding and accountability are the subject of questions by policymakers.
was heard in the
House Local Government Committee
on Jan. 31. (Find links below.) HB1343 would create binding authority over library budgets by the elected fiscal body. The bill co-authors described concerns expressed by local taxpayers about their desire for greater input into library decisions. They raised questions about public notice provisions and transparency, amounts of reserves, salary levels and more.
, Director of Vigo County Public Library and co-chair of the ILF Advocacy Committee, provided a consolidated response to concerns.
, Director of Indianapolis Public Library, shared how Marion County is often treated differently by state law and how her library service area aligns with county lines, unlike many library and jurisdictional lines around Indiana. They both underscored the levels of accountability required under the current law. Together, their testimony detailed four main ideas:
- Library boards are appointed by elected bodies under IC 36-12-2-7 to 17. The independent authority granted to public library boards is intended to preserve the historical role as a source of unbiased information.
- Information contained on Indiana Gateway for Government Units requires context, as it provides a level of transparency but does not tell the complete story, including disbursement dates, capital improvement plans and related to salary information, graduate degrees and years of service by staff.
- Current law and processes provide multiple levels of accountability and transparency for libraries, as they follow budget, audit, open door and reporting requirements under Indiana Code, IN Dept. of Local Government Finance, IN State Board of Accounts, Indiana State Library, Indiana Gateway and more.
- Libraries model taxpayer stewardship and budget frugality.
After committee discussion, the chairman asked Indiana Library Federation to work with the bill co-authors on amendment language that would address concerns. The ILF Advocacy Committee discussed various options to address concerns. The bill is anticipated to be heard again on Thursday, Feb. 14, 8:30am.
What YOU can do
- Learn more about this bill and other library-related bills. Attend the Virtual Advocacy Update on Feb. 11.
- Communicate how they are operating by the law and best practices. Public Libraries should share long-range plans, including capital improvement plans.
- Thank legislators for questions. Use the opportunity to educate and gain a supporter.